Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lips Touch alternate cover up for auction

Hey guys, have you ever seen this painting? It's by Jim, and it is an alternate Lips Touch cover he did during the whole cover conception process. I love it. It is actually hanging in my writing room! It is also now up for auction -- as a 13x20 print on canvas (mounted on stretcher bars; it looks like an original painting on canvas; FYI there *is* no "original" of this because it was finished digitally, so it exists in its purest form in the ether.) -- to benefit Bridget Zinn, our lovely Portland writing friend who has been valiantly battling stage IV colon cancer for nearly two years -- that's nearly two years of constant chemo, and now a new treatment for which she is traveling to Arizona a week of every month. There are a lot of totally awesome items up for auction, including this painting, which includes a signed copy of Lips Touch.

Browse, bid, and help Bridget and Barrett out with their medical costs.

Thank you! And really, this Thanksgiving, give deepest and most heartfelt thanks for your health. Because, boy o boy. Not everyone is so lucky.

Direct link to the painting HERE.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stop and Smell the ... Violin?

This is not new, and I may be the last person to hear about it, but my mom just emailed me the story which I find verrry interesting. See here:


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life NOW .. it has an expiration date

* * * * * *

I Snope's it and it's true (story here), and it makes me think a couple of things:

1) Classical musical literacy in this country is all but nil (myself included). We don't know great from good when we hear it. Heck, I scarcely know great from bad! This is sad. I wish I'd had an education in classical music. I know it's not too late, of course. It's all priorities. But ... our priorities, our educational system ... so much is lost. As a culture, we put our time into the most mediocre forms of entertainment, things that dull our minds instead of exalting them. Will this be a footnote in some alien textbook on the ruin of human civilization on Earth?

2) I want to be the person who stops and listens, even if I don't recognize it as great. When you think about what kind of person you would like to be ... what do you see? Suppose you were writing the *ideal you* as a character in a novel. In this scenario, my *ideal Laini* would not only stop, but would end up engaging the violinist in conversation and finding out -- what!? gasp!! -- that he was Joshua Bell, who even I have heard of. It would be meaningful. It would be cool. It would be a story I could tell forever, how I was the *only* person who stopped to listen that day Joshua Bell played incognito in the subway station. If I were *ideal Laini* I would have a ton of anecdotes like that, because I would be alert to life, I would be engaged.
Wouldn't you like to be that person? How to be that person? Think about it. Think about being *ideal you.*

3. I want to listen to more classical music. I want Clementine to listen to more classical music. Tonight Jim's beginning guitar class had a concert, and she was so engaged. It's awesome. She just drinks up live music. Her face is like light. More. More more more. Lucky to live in a city with music everywhere, free or cheap, and for all ages. Portland, I [heart] you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Catching up, plans, MOROCCO!, and some writing room pics

Oh such a shameful shocking lapse in blogging. I just can't get my blogging act together. Some things that are going on:

--Clementine under the weather. A little cold plus a little teething = a little misery :-(

-- Starting a new book. Wooo hooooo! So exciting! So scary, inspiring, and wonderful! Have come up with some ideas that totally set my brain on fire. I am currently in love with the opening scene.

-- Laini's Ladies emergency. That is, I find myself with a sudden deadline and new designs to produce in the midst of much else going on.

-- Assorted "much else" in the way of life stuff -- good stuff, but busy-making.

-- Impending copy-edits. Eeek! Will be receiving tomorrow!

-- Revisiting the title of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which just isn't quite right. Wracking my brain for a kick-a** title.

--Preparing to go on a trip! Yay!!!!!! Guys, we're finally going to Morocco!!!!!!! Yippeeeeee! I have been in a daydream-land of kasbahs and camels, zellij tiles and carpet souks, tajines and caftans, mountain, desert, beach, city. Seriously: the Atlantic, the Sahara, the Atlas Mountains, and Marrakesh. Oooooooh, names out of fairy tales. I am SO EXCITED I CAN'T SEE STRAIGHT. I want to see the goats in the argan trees. Date oases on the fringe of the Sahara, with mud-brick castles baking in the winter sun. Leather slippers in every color, all lined up, gorgeous as candies. Mountains of oranges in the Jemaa el-Fna.

How cool of a UNESCO designation is this: "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". I think that that designation was created specifically for the Jemaa el-Fna, which the heart of Marrakesh, this big madhouse of a square filled with acrobats and henna artists, snake charmers, musicians, street dentists (ouchy!), storytellers, and more more more. And food, of course. Here it is at night:

And here is one of the most famous kasbahs, Ait benhaddou. It may be familiar to you from being in many movies, including Gladiator:

And oh the luxury, the luxury. Part of the awesomeness of traveling in Morocco is that even the hotels are destinations, and I don't mean just the expensive ones. Here are some pictures of the "modest" riad where we will be staying:

(Look at this ceiling!!! And the tilework! Oh my oh my. Camera, I think you are going to get some use :-)

Oh my gosh, I am so in love with this country, and I haven't even been there yet! Can't WAIT to show you my own pictures. It will be a little while yet, but just you wait. Photos will be had. Forced on you. I will sucker you in and make you watch my two-hour trip slideshow of Clementine riding a camel, Clementine wearing a tarbouche cap (fez), Clementine on a magic carpet, etc etc. Tee hee.

In the meantime, some pictures I can show. My writing room is in the new issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors -- the Studio edition. Yay! I haven't seen it yet, but am dying to. But here are some of the pics I sent in. Don't know which they will have used:

On another note, I was following the National Book Awards on Twitter last night. Has it already been a year??? Whoa. Congrats to all the winners!

And lastly, a book recommendation. Best book I've read in a long while: Plain Kate by Erin Bow. Such gorgeous gorgeousness! Erin Bow is an award-winning poet, and it shows in her marvelous prose: so evocative and lovely (without being flowery or "poem-y," never fear). But it's not just the prose. The storytelling, the imagination, and the heart -- and heartbreak are all tippy top. My favorite kind of book. It actually made me well up numerous times, and I am not a teary-eyed reader, usually! I could try to tell you the plot, but I have a deadline to get back to, so best you just read the flap when you go to buy it! :-)

Monday, November 08, 2010

More pretty :-)

So I'm totally in love with this Dutch artist, Jane something (her last name is not anywhere! I have come across it, but can't find it now. Starts with an 'S'. Schouten? Anyway, find her HERE). Is she even Dutch? I don't know. Maybe she just lives in the Netherlands. You see, I know nothing. But check out this colorful wonderfulness:

(Love this pillow. And there's a how-to for these vases here.)

Wonderful: modern chairs and stools reupholstered in vintage blankets that she has embroidered and appliqued. WANT.

These are pulled from inspiration pages:

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Just because ... it's pretty

I've been feeling decoratey lately. Dreamy-decoratey. Dreaming of a new house, bigger house, new decorating possibilities. Dream dream dream. I have this little folder on my desktop for inspiration, and this is what's in it. Just ... pretty. A random selection. Most of these come via the fabulous decor8:

Such cute craftiness!

I love this Anthropologie display, the way they have the random drawers on the bookcase for organization? How cute is that? Love Anthropologie. Love love love.

This, apparently, is done by cutting designs out of big floral wallpaper and decoupaging onto a cabinet. Cute!

I think that I would love to have a space filled with giant colorful poufs. I think kids would love it too.

Click on this one to embiggen. It's so purty.

Awesome DIY glass ball chandelier. I have my eye on you.

Have a beautiful day!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Just ... start writing? *Gasp sputter!*

So, you know how awesome it is to write a book? To finish a book? If you don't yet know this, I can tell you: it is the awesomest. I just want to keep reading it over and over and gloating. I wrote another book. Yay, me!!!

But. There's a downside. The downside of finishing a book is that you have to -- ulp! -- start writing another book. Just like that. Out of thin air! Don't get me wrong: this is its own awesome, but the beginning, the huge blankness, it's ... well, you probably know. It's the most magical and terrifying of things. The perfect gleam of possibility, like a newly snowed field as yet unmarked by tracks. Daunting!

I've written four novels now. FOUR! (If you don't count the god-awful misbegotten thing I clawed out of my brain one fateful NaNo several years ago and have been trying ever since to forget). And it some ways, it DOES get easier each time. In the sense that you know you can do it. And this last book, it was a revelation and education to me in efficiency. The first book I've written as a mom. Written in time available. Okay, I'm lucky there -- I have work hours; I have 4-5 hours a day to just write. Once upon a time, that seemed like nothing. Now, I know it is enough. If I use it to write, that is, and not blog. (Ahem.)

So, here I go, starting another book. I've got a brand new Scrivener project doc going, complete with a "Working Doc" in which I have begun to spill my brainstorming thoughts and plans for this book. I had thought I would give myself some time -- weeks, even -- to just do that: What if this? What if that? Just brainstorm, write about the book, because it's easier than actually diving in and writing scenes, and it's a good way to ease in. But after a few hours of brainstorming, and with a solid idea of how I want to start the book, I'm thinking I ought to just ... start the book.

You know?

Planning is great. Brainstorming is great. I love it because it is this huge world to wander in. I can think up anything, and it is a zero-stress environment. It is an environment I return to again and again and again throughout the writing of a book. What now? and once again, What now?

But ... it's in the writing that the magic happens. That's the time of pure creation. It's kind of like the Miller-Urey experiment in which you create the conditions for life and then zap it with simulated lightning and see what happens. The joy and excitement and terror are here, in the primal soup of story. If I have an idea of how to begin, I should just do it right? The only reason not to is: FEAR.

Stupid fear. Fear is not a good enough reason!

As far as just diving in and starting to write, I have found that it helps to think of this phase as the creation of raw material, and not as "the book." In the last book, I did this a fair amount, early on, and I found that later -- even much later -- in the writing, I was able to plunder that raw material and use it. It was not for nothing! The thing is, writing about the story (which I totally condone, in its place), you are on the outside looking in. Writing the story, you are in it. And only when you are in it, do "things happen" -- mystical unexpected things, like flashes of lightning animating chemicals to produce amino acids out of slush. Get into a scene and go, make the characters talk to each other and do things. It might be something you can use, it might not. If it's not, just keep going: create more raw material, until you "find" it.

Remember: you're writing to find the story just as much as you are writing to tell the story.

I'm pep-talking myself right now to begin doing just this. There's this part of me that still thinks that writing a book is something you have to build up to, a monumental task you have to gird yourself for. But really, you can just do it. Start it. It's like dieting: you tell yourself you're starting next week because you have to "get ready," right? OR, you can just ... not eat that scone and start NOW.

So, am I going to do it? Start the book? No. I can't think of it like that! My brain, my brain. The convolutions of my brain will not allow it. What I am going to do is: start writing scenes, generating raw material. If I think of it like that, I can do it. I think.

Plus, this is a sequel, so the characters are right there in my brain, where they have been all year. (This is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which by the way will be out in October, and may yet change title; stay tuned. It's in copy editing right now; I will see it again soon.)

By the way, the past few days have been an autumn extravaganza around here. So so wonderful. The leaves are doing their magical thing, and the weather has been gorgeous. At the park the other day, a genius mom had brought a rake and she made some massive leaf piles on the tennis court, and this might as well have been an amusement park for all the kids -- the glee, the games that came out a few leaf piles! Heaven.

Yesterday, we seized the possibility of one of the last sunny days and drove out to the Columbia River Gorge for our favorite hike: along Eagle Creek to Punchbowl Falls. Clementine was on my back, and snoozed a good part of the way, preparation for upcoming travels to faraway lands :-) Thank you, world, for the conjunction of sunshine with the changing leaves. These few days have been splendid!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween isn't so bad ...

So, it turns out that Clementine is a fan of Halloween. Shocker! Man, we had so much fun yesterday! It's been a long time since I trick-or-treated, obviously, and I think it isn't what it used to be. So many houses did not participate! It seems like when I was a kid, every single house had a pumpkin on the porch and was open for business. Not so these days, but still, we had a wonderful time, and Clementine caught on quick! Here she is at her very first porch, getting her first treat ever, and from Ginny Weasely no less!

Yes, she was Superman.

We figure next year the years of fairy princesses will begin, so why not? Plus which, we needed a simple costume involving no head pieces to be yanked off. She was not the only Superman in town. Yesterday morning, Portland Children's Museum was the safest place in the Universe:

Clementine has not had a lot of chocolate in her life, but the few times she has tasted it, her little hands started frantically making the sign language for "MORE! MORE!" She is a fan. Yesterday, while trick-or-treating, she had a wrapped Kit Kat in her hands, and we didn't notice she had gnawed through the wrapper and was happily devouring herself some Kit Kat! And maybe a little wrapper too. When I tried to take it away to roll the wrapper down so she could actually have it, her one Halloween treat (no, not a whole Kit Kat!), she made feral animal sounds and bit my hand off at the wrist. Hee hee. Here, Kit Kat evidence in hand:

Sigh. So fun :-)

Meanwhile, making plans for Clementine's first international travel, upcoming, which just might involve a camel ride ... And maybe, if we're verrrrry lucky, a magic carpet or two!